Total Knee Replacement: Advantages and Disadvantages


Do you suffer from severe knee pain, stiffness and immobilization in your knee that affect your ability to do things? Does the knee pain remains painful despite taking physiotherapy, steroid injections, doing exercise, and using walking supports? Well, it sounds you are a candidate for total knee replacement surgery.

There are several medical conditions that may lead to the need of knee replacement surgery, and arthritis is the most common among them. Genetics, developmental abnormalities, some form of injury and obesity are the other contributing factors.

Patients who have tried and failed the non-surgical means to get respite from knee pain such as weight loss, lifestyle modifications, anti-inflammatory medicines or cortisone injections, all to no avail, can greatly benefit from knee replacement surgery.


Also known as knee arthroplasty, this surgical procedure is performed to replace the severely diseased or damaged surfaces of the arthritis knee with an artificial metal or plastic part called ‘implant’ or ‘prosthesis’. These man-made (artificial) prosthetic devices are shaped to allow continued motion of the knee.

There are two main types of surgeries for replacing the damaged knee – Unicondylar / Partial Knee Replacement (UKR/PKR) and Total Knee Replacement (TKR).

The latest statistics presented this year at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) show that more than 4.5 million people in the United States are living with a total knee replacement. By some estimates, approximately 130,000 replacement surgeries are carried out annually in the United States.

Surgical Overview

Also called total knee arthroplasty, total knee replacement is an ideal option for people with severe destruction of the joint of the knee, causing significant pain, stiffness and impaired function of the knee.

It is a major yet highly successful surgical procedure which involves replacement of all three compartments of the knee- the medial (inside of the knee), the lateral (outside of the knee) and the patellofemoral (the front of the knee).

In this surgery, bone surfaces of the knee and cartilage that have been damaged by arthritis are removed and replaced with artificial surfaces (implants) made of metallic and plastic materials that function similar to a healthy knee.


A successful total knee replacement offers tremendous benefits and can vastly enhance the quality of your life.

The problems of instability, disability and restricted mobility of the knee are completely alleviated through this surgery.

The surgery provides the patient with a considerable reduction or even elimination of pain. Following the surgery, the patients can largely restore range of motion of the knee.

The pain-free knee allows patients to retain a wide range of daily activities, including climbing stairs, shopping and getting in and out of chairs, thus enabling them to lead a normal life

The patient will experience improved muscle strength and improved alignment of deformed joints following the surgery.

Artificial knee may last for a long time. About 95% of knee replacements last 15 years or longer, thanks to the latest technologies.


Blood clots in the legs can develop, which can travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolism) that can further cause shortness of breath, chest pain, and even shock.

Other risks of total knee replacement include urinary tract infection, nerve damage, and blood vessel injury.

Nausea and vomiting, swelling, chronic knee pain and stiffness, and bleeding into the joint of the knee are some complications one can experience following the surgery.

Furthermore, infection of the knee may occur in some cases, requiring hospital admission and re-operation.

One of the biggest disadvantages of total knee replacement is its cost. Getting total knee replacement may make you dig deep into your pockets. The cost of the surgery, however, varies depending on the surgeon’s experience and skill, the type of implant, the extent of the surgery, the hospital, medications, special tests and your insurance coverage.